Transparency Statement as at July 2018
The Firm – Legal structure and ownership
French Duncan LLP was one of the very first LLPs registered in Scotland following the enactment of the Limited Liability Partnership Act 2000. The LLP acquired the business of French Duncan in 2005. There are currently 15 members, or partners.
The firm operates from five offices across central Scotland providing professional services in the principal areas of audit, accountancy, taxation, corporate finance, corporate recovery, insolvency, hotel accounting, wealth management and HR services.
The firm is owned by its members whose rights and responsibilities are set out in the Members Agreement.
Network – HLB International
The firm is a member of HLB International, a worldwide network of independent accounting firms and business advisers, each of which is a separate and independent legal entity and as such has no liability for the acts and omissions of any other member. HLB International Limited is an English company limited by guarantee which co-ordinates the international activities of the HLB International organisation but provides no professional services to clients. Accordingly, HLB International Limited has no liability for the acts and omissions of any member of the HLB International organisation, and vice versa.
The management of the firm is carried out by the Managing Partner and the Management Board all of whom hold office for a three year period. The Board is responsible for setting the firm’s strategy. The Managing Partner reports to members every three months at a meeting of all members and once a year makes a formal presentation to all employees on the firm’s activities and progress. Departmental meetings between staff and their related partners take place throughout the year.
Other Management Board members
Internal Quality Control Systems
Responsibility for quality - overall approach and culture
Aside from the firm’s Management Board referred to above, the firm has established partners responsible for the quality of work in each of the principal areas of the practice.
The audit department is the responsibility of the Head of Audit and Audit Compliance partner who is responsible for ensuring the use of appropriate methodology and adherence to auditing standards, overseeing the provision of relevant continuing professional education and the maintenance of technical libraries, the provision of technical advice and assistance and generally ensuring that the firm continues to provide high quality audit work. The Audit Compliance partner evaluates the firm’s quality control procedures on an annual basis, reviews the feedback on external quality reviews and ensures implementation of best practice as this develops.
The Firm adopts the Mercia audit methodology, which is embedded into our paperless Caseware Audit package, on all assignments. The principles and approach underpinning this methodology is contained within the audit manual and they must be adopted on all audit engagements. The methodology ensures that all risks identified are adequately considered and addressed.
A robust review process at partner and manger level is in place to ensure adherence to the highest professional standards.
Ethical requirements (Including independence)
The firm’s ethical standards are contained in the firm’s manual which is available to partners and staff via the firm’s intranet. The Audit Compliance partner requires an annual declaration from all partners and staff that they are aware of the firm’s ethical standards which includes confirmation of independence and that they are compliant therewith.
To further ensure the highest technical and ethical standards the firm has an Ethical Committee whose two permanent members are the Audit Compliance Partner and a senior partner with particular skills in professional ethics, supported by other partners as circumstances demand. Any partner or member of staff is entitled to make representation to the committee where they believe an ethical issue requires independent review.
Ongoing ethical issues, including the provision of non-audit services to audit clients and long association issues, are considered prior to commencement of each audit and the Ethics partner is consulted where relevant. If the issue cannot be resolved through discussion with the Ethics Partner the matter is referred to the other permanent member of the Ethics Committee. A sample of audit files is selected for internal cold file review and adherence to these procedures is confirmed during this review. Where issues are identified the issue is discussed with the relevant Responsible Individual and addressed if necessary.
Audit partners and staff on Public Interest Audits are rotated as prescribed by Ethical Standards.
Our independence procedures are kept under review and are updated, as necessary to take account of regulatory and professional developments.
Quality procedures and monitoring
On an annual basis the firm employs external consultants to carry out a sample review of the firm’s audit files and any recommendations arising therefrom are brought into practice. The review process ensures that every year all audit partners will have been subject to external review. In addition the firm conducts regular internal reviews of files to ensure standards are maintained. The Management Board is confident that this review process is an effective method of ensuring the maintenance of audit quality.
Management statement on effectiveness of functioning
The firm’s Management Committee believes that the policies, regulations and procedures outlined above have ensured that in all material respects partners and staff have complied with relevant professional, regulatory and legal requirements. This compliance has ensured a consistently high quality of work across the practice.
Monitoring of Performance
French Duncan LLP is authorised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) to carry out audit work in the UK and as such is subject to oversight by the Institute’s Audit Monitoring Unit (AMU). Additionally the firm is also subject to inspection by the Financial Reporting Council ("FRC"). In the course of 2014 the firm was subject to inspection by both the AMU and the FRC. The FRC delegated its inspection to the AMU.
French Duncan LLP’s insolvency partners are licensed by ICAS. Accordingly, their work is subject to regulation and monitoring by their respective professional bodies.
Finally, all of the firm’s professional work aside from audit and insolvency is subject to regular review by the Quality Review department of ICAS. Their last inspection visit was in 2016.
Maintenance of skills
Human resource matters are the responsibility of the Staff Partner supported by an HR Director. They are responsible for the development and maintenance of our HR procedures including those relating to recruitment, appraisals and training.
For many years the firm has had in place an ongoing training programme which is designed to be relevant to personnel at each stage of their professional career.
Skills and personal qualities of audit partners and staff
All audit staff and partners are required to attend a series of training courses spread across each year which are provided by the same external consultants who carry out the annual audit file reviews and by internal trainers. As well as ensuring that staff and partners are technically up to date, this approach is also intended to ensure that any weaknesses identified in the file review process are addressed at an early date by way of a training course.
A key component of professional development is robust on the job training by senior staff which is monitored regularly.
In addition all professional staff and partners are encouraged to attend other training courses which are considered relevant to their line of work or specialism.
In particular we ensure that all audit partners attend ICAS designated courses as required and that they comply with the requirements of IES 8 (Professional Competence for Engagement Partners Responsible for Audits of Financial Statements).
All staff are subject to a yearly appraisal process which further helps to identify professional development needs.
Public Interest Entities audited by the firm
During the year, the firm expressed an audit opinion on the financial statements of one Public Interest Entity audit client:
UK listed audit client:
J. Smart & Co (Contractors) plc.
The Transparency Regulations require certain financial information to be provided in a Transparency Report. The information given below for the year ended 30 April 2018 is as yet unaudited.
Note 1: Non audit income for audit clients in 2018 is a best estimate. Comparative information in respect of non-audit income for audit clients was not collated prior to 1 May 2017.
Revenues from non-audit services provided to audit clients include (although are not limited to) accounts preparation work, corporation tax compliance work, tax advisory, corporate finance and general business advice.
When we undertake non-audit work for an audit client, we consider the requirements of the Ethical Standards for Auditors, and our internal ethical guidance.
Profits are shared amongst the partners (who are Members of the LLP) based on remuneration levels set by the Tier 1 Partners. Remuneration levels for all partners are reviewed each year by the Tier 1 partners who consider a range of performance measures relevant to each individual partner. Remuneration levels are not based on performance in one individual financial year and audit partners are not remunerated on the basis of selling non-audit services to audit clients.
Details about our audit registration can be viewed at www.auditregister.org.uk, under reference number 3214.